We're all driven by a desire to make something of ourselves, to find meaning and purpose, to know and be known by another person--to be loved and accepted for who we are. We seek the paradise that was lost, to return to ourselves and to our maker, to the way things were in the beginning. Whether we know it or not, we are seeking to become the people that God created us to be. We are seeking paradise, salvation and escape from death even though we might not be able to articulate what exactly we are doing or searching for.
We do things to attain this feeling of rightness, a feeling of all being okay. It is the feeling of biblical shalom that we seek--a feeling and knowledge that everything is and will be as it should be. But in our twisted states, in our desperate desire for shalom, in our desire for love, joy, and peace, we start to try to manufacture it ourselves.
Some of us do this through being control freaks--in our pain we are slavishly seeking to control ourselves and everyone around us. But in the end, we only make ourselves and everyone around us miserable. Perfectionism--it manifests itself in many ways--even through eating disorders.
Other pains. Maybe we are suffering from depression. So, we sleep our lives away in order to attain some peace. For others of us, our pain drives us to anesthetize ourselves (maybe a different way of dealing with depression). We might anesthetize ourselves through workaholism or illegitimate sex (trying to find solace in a person or virtual person) or by stuffing most minutes of our lives with frenetic activity. Others of us stuff ourselves with alchohol or drugs or food. We try a buffet of gods.
And of course there is the allure of success. We think that climbing the corporate ladder or having our fame and money will satisy the gnawing feeling in our souls that we just can't put our finger on.
Some of us think that marriage is the solution to quelling the ache in our souls.
You see, we (even some Christians) are held in slavery by our fear of death. We fear physical death to be sure, but also a death of who we dream ourselves to be. We fear the death of our dreams. In order to prevent these deaths--because of our fear of death and desire for paradise-- we chase after everything but God, the life-giver and sustainer.
Remember, God gives us life. He always leaves life in his wake. Jesus has come to free us from death--including physical and spiritual death and the death of us (the children of God he created us to be). Death encompasses so much. But Jesus has overcome death. He gives us life (which includes shalom and the fruits of the Spirit) abundantly. He restores life. He restores us to the people he has made us to be. Do we believe this?
In our decisions we are either moving forward in life or in death. That's why God tells us to choose life. We don't have to let the fear of some sort of death lead us into death-dealing and death-making decisions. We don't have to be held captive in slavery by our fear of death. Jesus has set us free. Now, we need to learn to walk in freedom and we need to learn and experience what it means to be free. Sure, because of the Fall, shalom and all the good and all the life God has for us will not be experienced in this life. But my goodness, a lot of it can be.
We need to learn the ways of the Lord, to take Jesus' yoke (his teaching) upon us and learn from him. We learn from him through faithful followers of Jesus whether living or dead, through spiritual disciplines, creation, etc. But we have to intend it. We have to want to move toward and into life. And God will give us life. Sometimes though, in his grace, he rescues us even when we're not looking for him.
My dear one, do you seek paradise, the paradise that was lost? God is restoring it to you and all of creation. I do pray that in some way this blog is life-giving. Turn to him and also ask for help from believers. We're in this together.
Hebrews 2:14-15 along with the Coldplay song, "Paradise" combined in me to bring these thoughts to you today.
The blessing of the Lord Jesus upon you this moment.